History of 18th Century Ireland

18th Century Ireland

As Ireland progressed into the 18th century, religious and political reform had already taken place.

With the concentration of plantations in Ulster during the 17th Century Ireland, the invasion of Oliver Cromwell and the Williamite War, Britain had better control over Ireland.

Laws were created to hinder the influence of Catholics within Irish politics. Such laws included no Catholic could hold public office, have the right to vote, be an officer in the army or be in the legal profession. Although people were given a choice, either has no rights or denounce their Catholic faith.

The Irish fame in the 1700s

In 1739 & 1741 famine had struck Ireland with rural areas mainly affected but the spread of disease made starvation more widespread around the island.

Political independence for Ireland

Protestants were running the Irish Parliament in Dublin and although they had political powers they still had to answer to the British parliament in London. Politicians persuaded London to grant the Irish Parliament legislative independence which occurred in 1782. This now meant new laws did not need to be passed by England, nor could they be changed but the Irish parliament would always remain loyal to Britain.

The United Irishmen is founded

Between 1756 to 1763 Europe had a Seven Years War involving Britain, several Germanic States against an alliance of France, Austria, Russia Saxony, and Sweden. During this time the French landed in Ireland at a place called Carrickfergus.

The French Revolution took place in 1789 with people in Ireland seeing how strength in numbers could make the change and would influence how the Irish would deal with its current problems.

The United Irishmen society was formed by Belfast Presbyterian’s as debating society but would turn to seek unification of Catholic & Protestants as one nation. Wolfe Tone, a writer, and a Protestant became a thorn in England’s side and asked France to help with Ireland’s cause.

Irish Rebellion of 1798

In August a French army tried to land in Donegal but was captured. One of the French officers arrested was Wolfe Tone in disguise. He was taken to Dublin to be tried for treason but rather than let the British execute him he took his own life. The savage atrocities that took place in 1798 saw nearly 30,000 people lose their lives, known in history as the Irish Rebellion of 1798.

Republican liberty had now taken a back seat to a new master, one which has reached into the modern-day – animosity between Catholics and Protestants. The Irish parliament was quick to act and in 1798 disbanded and in an act of union in 1800 Ireland became part of the United Kingdom.

When George III became King of Great Britain and Ireland he promised to uphold a Protestant state. This meant that no Catholic could hold a seat in parliament. This led a few years later to the formation of the Catholic Association by Daniel O’Connell who left a mark in Ireland’s 1800 history.

History Timeline of 18th Century Ireland

Last updated March 2, 2020.

About the Author

Brian O’Neill
Camera shy Brian is a proud Donegal man and regular contributor to our site.